In college I worked at a global-fusion restaurant/cafe called Pangea that specialized in soups and natural/organic/locally-sourced ingredients. *If any of you dear readers go to Ashland, Oregon, definitely eat there. It even has a collection of coffee table books for your viewing pleasure, including What The World Eats, which I consider one of the best and most culturally-relevant photo essays ever made. I would’ve written a 5-star yelp review for Pangea but I don’t know if I can; I think yelp prohibits all employees (former included) from yelping about businesses they are or once were affiliated with.
This recipe utilizes the 6 key ingredients used for cooking tamale meat: peppercorns, ancho chilies, guajillo chilies, bay leaf, pumpkin seed and sesame seeds. Traditionally, the meat (usually shredded pork) is stewed in these spices and seeds. As with most things involving meat, the overall quality of the dish comes from the spices and seasonings that give it flavor. Case in point: if not for steak marinades and sauces, it seems safe to assume that more of us would go veg.
I love recipe makeovers. Last week I “made over” a Julia Child recipe. This week it’s Martha Stewart. Often recipes makeovers are easy, like in this case, where I only substituted stevia for the honey and lime for the lemon.
I can hardly believe I’m actually attempting this recipe. Typically made with butter and chicken broth, petits pois a la francaise was never been on my list of things to veganize…until today. Continue reading
Mason jars work like a charm, in many situations i.e. brown-bagging it to work (unless of course you have to go through a security scanner or your employer bans glass containers). Plastic gladware or tupperware containers fail miserably in comparison, in terms of functionality and sustainability…but if an anti-glassware policy is your office-environment predicament, this recipe can adapt to plastic.
Lunch in a Jar w/ Fire Roasted Peppers
1 7oz can whole fire roasted green chile peppers
4 roma tomatoes
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup cooked black beans
salt to taste, optional
In a cast-iron skillet, cook the tomatoes in 1/4 cup water. Add more water if necessary, making sure not to burn the tomatoes but allowing them to brown a little. Add the onions, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to create a paste. The mixture should resemble a thick sauce, but not a purée. This salsa/sauce is one of my favorite foods in the world, and I can’t take credit for the recipe. I tried it for the first time in San Marcos La Laguna, a village on the western shore of Lago Atitlán in the Sololá Department of Guatemala. The copy-cat version featured here pales in comparison I’m sure, but it’s my best attempt thus far.
Transfer the cooked tomato and onion mixture to a bowl. Add a bit more water to the skillet and begin to heat the roasted chiles. If the beans are not warmed yet, or if you are using a can, have them ready to heat after the chiles. Remove the heated chile peppers from the skillet, and place in a separate bowl or on a plate. Heat the beans if applicable. In a jar, layer the tomato sauce and chiles with a thin layer of beans.
Originated from the Quechua ch’arki, the term “jerk” refers to dried protein. In the Andes aka the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the protein in question was alpaca or cuy (guinea pig) meat.
In the Caribbean and in Afro-Caribbean culture, the term “jerk” generally refers to a spice blend used to season protein. On the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Belize, you can sometimes find jerk tofu on the menu at local restaurants. From personal experience I can vouch for the existence of jerk-seasoned tofu cooked by locals as opposed to vegan expats in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and in Punta Gorda, Belize.
Etymology of jerk:
jerk (v.2) as a method of preserving meat, 1707, American English, from American Spanish carquear, from charqui (see jerky). Related: Jerked.
jerky (n.) 1850, American English, from American Spanish charqui “jerked meat,” from Quechua (Inca) ch’arki “dried flesh.”
Spanish spellings include charque and charqui, from which the English word jerky derives.
Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish
1 x 16oz package vacuum packed super-firm or extra-firm tofu *I used Nasoya, but in the past I’ve used Wildwood (I recommend using one of these brands for this recipe, if possible. I don’t have experience with other brands of vacuum-packed tofu). Tofu packed in water, or in any other sort of packaging other than vacuum-sealed, even when the label reads ‘super’ or ‘extra’ firm, has an entirely different texture and will not work for this recipe.
½ tsp curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s brand; ingredients: cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, and saffron)
½ tsp garam masala (I used Whole Foods’ brand; ingredients: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander)
½ tsp caraway seed
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 drops stevia liquid or 1/16 tsp pure stevia powder
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/8 tsp salt (I used sea salt, but if I’d had it on hand I would have used pink Himalayan salt; that said, regular table salt would work just fine).
½ cup water
for the cranberry-pepper relish
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp red pepper flakes
In a jar, combine all ingredients except for the tofu. Seal the jar, and shake to combine. Set aside.
Slice tofu into slabs of approximately 1cm thickness. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Shake the jar before pouring 1/2 the marinade over the tofu cutlets. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Turn on the broiler to low, and proceed to cook the tofu. After 5-7 minutes, remove the tofu from the oven, flip, and evenly disperse the remaining marinade. Return tofu to the oven for 5-7 more minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the tofu to absorb the residual heat for 5 minutes.
Serve immediately, or let cool for no less than 10 minutes before storing in the refrigerator. In a tightly-sealed container, these jerk tofu cutlets will last 1 week approx.
Mint helps to ease cramping and nausea. Sometimes during a detox or cleanse, the body responds with nausea or stomach cramping. While ginger stimulates, mint soothes. Both help in instances of food poisoning or the stomach flu; ginger stimulates the production of bile to move the undigested or offending substance through the system to provide eventual relief, while mint soothes the stomach (making the process less painful).
Mint-Infused Berry Smoothie
1 cup frozen raspberries
5 frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana
2 cups water
20 fresh spearmint leaves
1 lime (juiced)
a few drops liquid stevia extract, optional, to taste
Combine berries with 1 cup water and purée until smooth. Add the banana, lime juice, and 1/2 the mint (10 leaves). Blend until smooth. Taste-test to determine whether to add more mint leaves. Adjust to your liking, blending after each addition. If desired, add a few drops liquid stevia extract.
Per serving (recipe serves 2): 120 Calories; 32 carbs; 1g fat; 2g protein; 9g fiber; 17g sugar.
This post is inspired by the many Thai restaurants I have dined at in the United States. Of all the options available in those circumstances, I always felt torn between eggplant and peanut-based dishes. Since I’ve had great difficulty finding eggplant lately, I decided to invent a Pad Thai-influenced low-carb dish without the tofu (since it’s not sold in the proximity of my current abode) and obviously without egg or noodles. Green beans aka string beans work swimmingly as a replacement for pasta/noodles in my experience, and kale increases not only nutrition but also adds to the flavor profile of most dishes. I’d write more, but the WiFi isn’t exactly ideal.
Thai-inspired Paleo Bowl
1 cup green beans, stemmed and cut into thirds
1 cup dino kale, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, shelled
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/4 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp thai-style chili garlic sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Place shelled peanuts into a plastic ziplock bag and crush with the back of a can opener or similar device. Remove from bag and set aside.
Add chopped kale and green beans to a small or medium pot and boil in 3 cups water. Add a pinch of salt, cover, and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes.
Add crushed peanuts to a wok or skillet with the 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp minced ginger, diced onion, 1 tsp maple syrup, and 1 Tbsp thai chili garlic sauce. Heat for 1 minute on medium, to sauté.
Reduce heat to low. Add 1/4 teaspoon tamari and stir.
Add a portion of the kale/green bean mix to a serving dish. Top with the sauteed peanut/onion mixture. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and lime juice. Serve.
Per serving: 100 Calories, 10g Fat, 200mg Potassium, 3g Sugar, 3g Carbs, 3g Fiber, 5g Protein.
The holidays make us prone to over-indulgence. I could go further, but I think that sentence more or less sums it up. Both recipes described below serve as prime examples of the “holiday detox” staples I swear by: oil free, starch-free vegetable stew and of course, green smoothies. More recipes ensue.